26 November 2023

The Second Arab–Israeli War (Suez Crisis) - A Quick Note

The second Quick Note focuses on the Second Arab–Israeli War (also called the Suez Crisis). As mentioned earlier, the Quick Notes series reflects, for the sake of brevity, an 'overview' of this most significant West Asian conflict.

(Strait is a narrow channel of water that separates two land bodies; example: Palk Strait separates India and Sri Lanka.)

When: 29 October 1956–7 November 1956

What happened: Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956; the United Kingdom and France encouraged Israel to attack Egypt to regain control of the important waterway. Israel’s main goal was to reopen the blocked Straits of Tiran, which was strategically important for it. Israel attacked and occupied the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, both belonging to Egypt.

(a) Under intense pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France retreated from the war.

(b) Israel scored an important strategic victory as it lifted the blockade to the Straits of Tiran. 

(Map from here)

20 November 2023

The First Arab–Israeli War of 1948 - A Quick Note

In a series of four Quick Notes, I will bring to you the major wars fought between Israel and the Arab Muslim World. It is always difficult to simplify very complex issues like the IsraelPalestine conflict. However, the Quick Notes series reflects, for the sake of brevity, an 'overview' of this most significant West Asian conflict. 

Source: UN
In 1947, the UN Partition Plan delineated the formation of two states: an independent Arab State and a separate Jewish State. 

When: 15 May 1948–10 March 1949

What happened:
Israel declared the formation of the world's first Jewish State on 14 May 1948.

The next day, a coalition of Arab Muslim nations, comprising Egypt, Palestinian Protectorate, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Yemen invaded the newly formed Jewish State with the avowed aim of expelling the Jews and destroying the State of Israel.

(a) Israel defeated the coalition of Arab Muslim nations, expanded its territory by 60% by capturing the territory given to Palestine under the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

(b) The 1949 Armistice Agreements, which established the armistice lines between Israel and its neighbours, also known as the Green Line, was signed (see the map).

(c) Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip while Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 

The Arab Muslim nations failed utterly in achieving their goals. To their misery, they lost 60% of the land allotted to Palestine under the UN Partition Plan to Israel.

The reader should note that this massive defeat did help bring the Arab Muslim nations together under the banner of Pan-Arabism.  

Also, it was the Arab Muslim nations which occupied the three territories (Egypt, West Bank, and East Jerusalem) which make up today's Palestine.

(Map from here)

24 October 2023

If Hamas Goes, Iran will be the 'Biggest Loser'

Israel's aerial blitzkrieg against Hamas is unrelenting even as it is getting ready to launch a full-scale ground assault in Gaza with a single goal: put Hamas out of existence by taking out its top leadership and destroying its massive arms and ammunition. 

If Hamas Goes, Iran will Lose Big Time
I believe that the biggest loser in the current West Asian situation is Iran. The daily threats and warnings emanating from Tehran mean nothing; the Clerics in Tehran may threaten Israel with doomsday rhetoric – but it is just that.

Tehran will not participate directly in the ongoing Israel–Hamas War. Tehran is beset by several handicaps: an economy in doldrums, widespread prevalence of unemployment, especially among the youth, rising domestic dissent for funding various actors in Syria (President Bashar Al-Assad), Iraq (a Shia dominant country and purportedly a playground for Iran’s strategic play), Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (Houthi), and Palestine (Hamas).

Iran hates Israel more than it loves Hamas. For Tehran, Hamas is just a shoulder from which it fires at its archenemy Israel. However, if Israel takes down the top leadership of Hamas and destroys its sizeable weapons arsenal in the Gaza Strip, Iran may lose its political and military influence in Palestine and its voice in advocating the Palestinian cause in the wider Islamic world.

Tehran’s most powerful external militia arm is Hezbollah. Though militarily powerful, Hezbollah’s home country, Lebanon, is in political and economic ruin. If Hezbollah launches a full-scale attack against Israel, it may stretch the Israeli military on two fronts—along the Gaza Strip and the Lebanese border—but this will invite a heavy reprisal from Israel. There is a great deal of anger among the beleaguered Lebanese against any military action by Hezbollah against Israel. To me, two things confirm the idea that Hezbollah looks like it is paying attention to the ground situation in its home country: it has launched very few rockets against Israeli targets and the top leadership of Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, has been eerily silent ever since the Israel–Hamas war broke out.

(To be concluded.)